Ringing the calendar in its titling, and marking a sense of place in the enabling freedom of a tree lined public space, the haze of history, humanity, memory, freedom, that ache of trumpet, Miles deeply embedded in an interior vision, blueness, aestheticism, it is all there suspended in the air within the musical persona of Tomasz Stańko. The great trumpeter composer returns with his evolving New York Quartet for December Avenue to be released in late-March ahead of their return to these shores for an April Gateshead Jazz Festival appearance.
A literary theme is part of the concept following on from their 2013-released Szymborska-themed predecessor, the artist and writer Bruno Schulz (1892-1942, self portrait as a drawing, below), who was shot by the Gestapo during the second world war, has a ballad named for him and which appears half way through the album.
The modernist Schulz short stories The Street of Crocodiles, (the Polish title preferring Cinnamon Shops), from December 1933 are Kafka-like provincial miniatures of bizarre metamorphosis, also earn mention reflected in their respectfully referencing inclusion in another piece. Stańko turns 75 this year and in that celebratory cycle is touring summer festivals in the company of Italian master Enrico Rava as written about just a few days ago.
Stańko’s official site states that December Avenue was recorded in 2016, the quartet pictured clockwise from top left at the recording: David Virelles on piano, Stańko, Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Reuben Rogers, bass, who replaces Thomas Morgan from the Wisława band. The new bassist and drummer are namechecked admiringly on the sixth of the 12 tracks. The album was produced by Manfred Eicher.